Thursday, August 16, 2012

Project Noir Songs goes to Brazil

I knew Elizeth Cardoso’s “Ocultei” was a great melodramatic noir song before I understood the words. (Cardoso and the song are Brazilian, and she sings it in Portuguese.)

Atmosphere was everything: the languid, matter-of-fact singing of the opening verse giving way to vocal tremor, then building to intensity a good deal stronger than that of your average torch song. The jacket photo of Cardoso, eyes closed in concentration as she sings, a bead of sweat (or a tear) below her left eye.

Then I learned what she was singing (Lyrics translated freely if not downright ineptly by your humble blogkeeper):
  Um sofrimento de morte
  Temendo a sorte
  Do grande amor que te dei

 (I blocked out
  A torment of death
  Fearing the fate
  Of the great love I gave you – and this is the matter-of-fact part!)

  Não perturbar nossa vida
  Que era florida
  Como, a princípio, sonhei

 (I tried
  Not to disturb our life,
  Which was going so well
  As I, at first, dreamed – A note of foreboding as sure any in a good '40s or '50s melodrama, the pause between third and fourth line adding to the effect.)

  Hoje, porem,
 Abri as portas do destino

(Today, however,
  I open the doors of destiny – and we skip to …)

  O meu ardente desejo
  Que Deus me perdoe o pecado
  É que outra mulher ao teu lado
  Te mate na hora de um beijo

  (My most ardent desire
– May God forgive me the sin! –
   Is that another woman, by your side,
   Kill you during a kiss.)
She loves him, she hates him, she begs forgiveness, she fantasizes another woman into his arms even as she dreams of his death. That's enough seething emotion to burn holes in the page or on the screen, I'd say.

And now I'm happy to be able to say you can listen for yourself. Though written by Ary Barroso, one of Brazil's best-loved popular composers, "Ocultei" is one of his less-recorded songs. I bought my copy in Brazil twelve years ago, and I'd never been able to find another recording or clip of Elizeth's version — until yesterday. Ladies and gentlemen, Elizeth Cardoso.
I'll be presenting Project Noir Songs at Noircon 2012 in Philadelphia in November, a preliminary act for a Newport Folk Festival 1965's worth of crime-fiction talent including Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, and Joyce Carol Oates. Yes, I'm excited!

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Tell Megan I said hi. She's such a sweetie.

August 18, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Do a search for word "gosh" on this blog. The only place you'll find it is in an interview I did with Megan Abbott, and I'm not the one who used it.

I also once contrasted her with Stieg Larsson, probably with respect to their novels' approaches to women and their books' preachiness or lack thereof. I think a called Megan "a better writer by orders of magnitude."

But wait til you see the post I'm preparing now. I mention Tom Waits in it.

August 19, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your translation is very good, but "Do grande amor que te dei" means "Of the great love I gave to you".

August 22, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nossa! That was not lack of knowledge on my part, it was mere sloppiness. I should have caught itt. Thanks. I've corrected the error now.

August 22, 2012  
Anonymous proper manky said...

Norah Jones has a similar song called Miriam:

August 24, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. I shall give it a listen, then report back.

August 24, 2012  

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